New Ohio State instructors welcomed at August orientations

Scott Jones, Associate Professor in the School of Music, says his most important message for Ohio State's newest faculty is, "In the classroom, we are ultimately engaged with the teaching of human beings. As such, we are called to understand how our students learn... not just the ones who are 'ready-to-learn,' but each and every one of them."

Jones delivered the keynote address at the second day of the New Faculty Orientation, an annual event hosted by the Office of Academic Affairs and organized in part by the University Institute for Teaching and Learning (UITL). Once faculty gain insight into how students learn, he suggested they might then "lead each student to deep engagement with the core principles of a given discipline. Effective, meaningful, transformational teaching is always hard work — not because our subject matter changes, but because the students we teach do. That is the work to which we are called at Ohio State: meeting each of our students where they are, and guiding them into deep understanding.”

114 faculty new to Ohio State dedicated the day on Aug. 16 to discussion and development related to teaching. Jones’ keynote was preceded by welcome addresses from Helen Malone, vice provost for academic policy and faculty resources, and Kay Halasek, director of UITL. Participants later joined concurrent sessions and were introduced to UITL’s resources for further development, including New Faculty FIT and teaching endorsements.

Materials from the sessions are posted on the New Faculty Orientation website.

UITL director Kay Halasek explained, "New Faculty Orientation serves as a critical introduction to importance Ohio State places on teaching excellence and learning success. UITL has been pleased to be a part of the Office of Academic Affairs welcoming of new faculty since its inception. The programming on day two is specifically designed to meet the needs of OSU’s new faculty who come to the university with diverse experiences in the higher education classroom, so we highlight, for example, active learning and inclusive teaching, and we spend quite a bit of time connecting them with faculty mentors who have great advice to give throughout the year."

During the same week, 575 graduate and undergraduate teaching associates attended the Graduate Teaching Orientation, coordinated by UITL. Participants represented 51 distinct units from across the university. Approximately one-third of the participating TAs were international students and 75% were brand new to teaching.

Experienced TAs, faculty volunteers, and university partners led sessions over the course of three days. According to Halasek, "Graduate Teaching Orientation provides critical information about not only evidence-based practices, but also classroom management and academic policies, that a graduate student needs for the first day in a classroom or lab setting in various GTA roles from instructor to grader."

Of her hopes for orientation participants, Halasek said, "UITL wants orientation participants to feel welcome and supported as they do the important work of engaging with OSU undergraduate and graduate students."